“Your honor,” says the public defender in Durango, Colorado, “we ask my client be shown leniency.” “As I understand it,” the judge replies, “the defendant was being followed by a police officer for driving a yellow Jeep with no plates. At some point the defendant swerved, and the officer pulled him over. He blew a .09…” the judge continues the story.
To those of you who don’t know, .08 is the legal limit for driving before you’re considered drunk. The average person gets .05 per beer, so to get to .09 in an hour, you wouldn’t even have to drink two Bud Lights. “We ask,” the public defender continues, “that leniency be shown because of the defendants occupation.” He’s a wildfire fighter who was in Durango during the #416 fire, and despite that fires size, the firemen didn’t allow a single life or structure to be lost. The man is a damn hero who drank two beers and took a drive. He was .01 over the limit.
I wonder, as I sit in this courtroom, what is wrong with our concept of law in this nation. The district attorney seems to agree with me. “Your honor, the prosecution agrees that due to the man’s occupation, he should be shown leniency.” The judge goes on for fifteen minutes about why she doesn’t feel comfortable.
I know firsthand that policemen drive drunk, and break a host of other laws. They have cards that get them out of trouble with one another, regardless of jurisdiction. I’ve seen a lieutenant roll a truck with a .3 (not .03) and get off with no legal repercussions.
Yet the cop that pulled this guy over couldn’t give that same consideration to a fireman, a real hero, a man who actually puts his life at risk to save others, and doesn’t go up against teenagers and pot smokers, but thousands of acres of burning trees.
The judge finally approves the requested leniency. But the “leniency” they’re speaking of? Not reduced jail time, in fact he’ll serve 90 days, but will have unsupervised probation for two years, so that he can continue to travel the country and save homes and lives.
90 days. The entire summer. For the majority of wildfire season, a man who could be helping us all will sit in jail. Over two Bud Lights.